Getting Youths Out of Adult Court


High school juniors and seniors are required to have signed permission slips from their parents to go on field trips— yet in New York they can be arrested and spend a night in jail without their parents ever knowing.

New York and North Carolina are the only states that process and prosecute all 16 and 17-year-old defendants as adults.

To Marian Wright Edelman, of the Children's Defense Fund, the system represents a glaring contradiction.

“Children are not little adults … neurological research has made that clear,” Wright Edelman said today at a conference entitled “Raise the Age: Turn the Page” at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Wright Edelman was among dozens of criminal justice advocates and policymakers who gathered to consider strategies for passing state legislation in New York that limits or eliminates instances in which teens and children are tried as adults.

Among those calling for systemic change was Vincent Schiraldi, Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Probation.

“It's increasingly clear to me that the use of 16, 17 or even 18 is an inadequate borderline, and one we should abandon in favor of a more reasonable approach,” Schiraldi said, noting that young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 are different — in terms of neurology and maturity — than older defendants.

“It's important to set up a different system, or a different set of responses, to address the needs of young adults in the system,” Schiraldi said.

Check back with The Crime Report for more coverage tomorrow.

Graham Kates is deputy managing editor of The Crime Report. He welcomes comments from readers. He can be found on Twitter @GrahamKates.

Comments are closed.